Being in the clothing industry, I’ve had the good fortune of doing business in New York and I must say, I love it! I love the energy, the food, the fashion. The one downer about New York though is their aggressive stance against pot. Marijuana is a scary subject for many New Yorkers and I am really starting to understand why.
As we here in California bask in the safety of Prop 215, it turns out more and more people are getting arrested in New York for small amounts of cannabis. Here is the article from the New York Daily News that mentions this fact:
Arrests for low-level pot possession higher in 2011 than 2010, despite NYPD directive restricting busts
Marijuana arrests near an all-time high
Thursday, February 2, 2012, 1:19 AM
DOUG MENUEZ/GETTY IMAGES
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told NYPD cops months ago that arrests should be made only if marijuana is in plain view or being smoked.
Cops made more misdemeanor marijuana arrests in 2011 than the the year before – despite a directive made in September by the NYPD’s top cop to stop collars for pot that’s not in plain view.
More than 50,680 arrests for low-level ganja possession were made in 2011 – a 0.6% jump from the 50,383 in 2010, according to data obtained by the Drug Policy Alliance from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly reminded officers months ago that arrests should be made only if the dope is in plain view or it’s being smoked.
If the reefer is discovered when a person is asked to empty their pockets – say, in a stop-and-frisk search – it should be non-criminal violation.
“The numbers are what they are, based on situations officers encounter in the street,” Kelly said at an unrelated press conference Wednesday.
“It’s very difficult to quantify whether or not what’s happening [out there],” he said.
The Drug Policy alliance contends that 2011 has the second-highest marijuana arrest level city history.
“The order, while a step in the right direction, did not address the illegal searches conducted regularly by NYPD, nor the racial bias implicit in these arrests,” the Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement.
Racism Alive and Well in New York?
What I don’t think is emphasized in this article however, is that it is the number of Blacks and Latino arrests that continues to climb, not Whites.
…and all that Jazz
In New Orleans, whites were also concerned that black musicians, rumored to smoke marijuana, were spreading (selling) a very powerful (popular) new “voodoo” music that forced even decent white women to tap their feet and was ultimately aimed at throwing off the yoke of the whites. Today we call that new music… jazz!
Blacks obviously played upon the white New Orleans racists’ fears of “voodoo” to try to keep whites out of their lives. Jazz’s birthplace is generally recognized to be Storeyville, New Orleans, home of original innovators: Buddy Bohler, Buck Johnson and others (1909-1917). Storeyville was also the birthplace of Louis Armstrong* (1900).
*In 1930 – one year after Louis Armstrong recorded “Muggles” (read: “marijuana”) – he was arrested for a marijuana cigarette in Los Angeles and put in jail for 10 days until he agreed to leave California and not return for two years.
Mexicans under marijuana’s influence were demanding humane treatment, looking at white women, asking that their children be educated while the parents harvested sugar beets and making other “insolent” demands.
American newspapers, politicians, and police had virtually no idea, for all these years (until the 1920s, and then only rarely), that the marijuana the “darkies” and “Chicanos” were smoking in cigarettes or pipes was just a weaker version of the many familiar concentrated cannabis medicines they’d been taking since childhood, or that the same drug was smoked legally at the local “white man’s” plush hashish parlors.
White racists wrote articles and passed city and state “marijuana” laws without this knowledge for almost two decades, chiefly because of “Negro/Mexican” vicious “insolence”* under the effect of marijuana.
*Vicious Insolence: Between 1884 and 1900, 3,500 documented deaths of black Americans were caused by lynchings; between 1900 and 1917, over 1,100 were recorded. The real figures were undoubtedly higher. It is estimated that one-third of these lynchings were for “insolence,” which might be anything from looking (or being accused of looking) at a white woman twice, to stepping on a white man’s shadow, even to looking a white man directly in the eye for more than three seconds; for not going directly to the back of the trolley, and other “offenses.”
It was obvious to whites, marijuana caused “Negro” and Mexican “viciousness” or they wouldn’t dare be “insolent”; etc…
Hundreds of thousands of “Negroes” and Chicanos were sentenced from 10 days to 10 years mostly on local and state “chain gangs” for such silly crimes as we have just listed.
This was the nature of “Jim Crow” laws until the 1950s and ‘60s; the laws Martin Luther King, the NAACP, and general public outcry have finally begun remedying in America.
We can only imagine the immediate effect the black entertainers’ refusal to wear blackface had on the white establishment, but seven years later, 1917, Storeyville was completely shut down. Apartheid had its moment of triumph.
No longer did the upright, uptight white citizen have to worry about white women going to Storeyville to listen to “voodoo” jazz or perhaps be raped by its marijuana-crazed “black adherents” who showed vicious disrespect (insolence) for whites and their “Jim Crow Laws” by stepping on their (white men’s) shadows and the like when they were high on marijuana.
Black musicians then took their music and marijuana up the Mississippi to Memphis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, etc., where the (white) city fathers, for the same racist reasons, soon passed local marijuana laws to stop “evil” music and keep white women from falling prey to blacks through jazz and marijuana.
In 1915, California and Utah passed state laws outlawing marijuana for the same “Jim Crow” reasons – but directed through the Hearst papers at Chicanos.
Colorado followed in 1917. Its legislators cited excesses of Pancho Villa’s rebel army, whose drug of choice was supposed to have been marijuana. (If true, this means that marijuana helped to overthrow one of the most repressive, evil regimes Mexico ever suffered.)
The Colorado Legislature felt the only way to prevent an actual racial blood bath and the overthrow of their (whites’) ignorant and bigoted laws, attitudes and institutions was to stop marijuana.
Mexicans under marijuana’s influence were demanding humane treatment, looking at white women, and asking that their children be educated while the parents harvested sugar beets; and making other “insolent” demands. With the excuse of marijuana (Killer Weed), the whites could now use force and rationalize their violent acts of repression.
This “reefer racism” continues into the present day. In 1937, Harry Anslinger told Congress that there were between 50,000 to 100,000* marijuana smokers in the U.S., mostly “Negroes and Mexicans, and entertainers,” and their music, jazz and swing, was an outgrowth of this marijuana use. He insisted this “satanic” music and the use of marijuana caused white women to “seek sexual relations with Negroes!”
*Anslinger would have flipped to know that one day there would be 26 million daily marijuana users and another 30-40 million occasional users in America, and that rock ‘n’ roll and jazz are now enjoyed by tens of millions who have never smoked marijuana.
That Funny Reefer Man
So now I leave you with Cab Calloway’s “That Funny Reefer Man.” Such great Jazz, such a shame it caused fear for no good reason.